Yes, The Bachelor franchise is a guilty pleasure, but nobody can ignore that it’s also a social juggernaut! Every contestant and kiss and drama and diss is the topic of conversations at kitchen tables, around water coolers, and internet gossip!

The show and all of its ‘players’ are fascinating. I like to think of it as a Petrie dish for relationships! Everything is a hyper extreme version of what we experience in the real world, which means that there are some love lessons even amongst all the reality tv craziness.

Bachelor in Paradise is an offshoot of the Bachelor and Bachelorette series and recently wrapped up its 6th season. The show puts past contestants of all ages, from all seasons, all very single (well, mostly) on a beach and basically says…ready, set, go love each other! And while you’re at it lets stir up some drama, exes, relationship traumas, and more love triangles than an AP geometry class.

But the show isn’t all scandal and drama. Yes, things happen way faster than they would in the real world, everyone is really hot and consuming skinny margs on the regular…but there are young hopeful romantics looking for love and genuinely ready to find “the one.”

So, to commemorate season 6 wrapping up, here’s my take on the 3 major lessons about love and dating we learned from The Bachelor in Paradise.

Lesson #1 Let love in

Sometimes, well – a lot of the time – love surprises the heck out of you. This season showed us that unexpected and unplanned love can be two things: scary and so worth it. Dean Unglert and Caeylnn Miller-Keyes are one of this season’s greatest love stories. Dean came onto the show mustached and free-spirited (we get it, Dean, you live in a van) and from all POVs was not serious about finding love.

But love happened, it happened fast, and then – say what?- Dean ran away. He and Caelynn immediately connected and were inseparable until Dean dumped her…on her birthday of all days! He told her that although he cared for her so deeply, it wouldn’t work out after the show because of his lifestyle and the life he had waiting for him back home. He chose their fate and left the beach.

We all have a past

As Dean was leaving Caelynn I was yelling at the tv, “Dean, way to be scared of love!” No shame! But Dean’s fear of love didn’t just come out of the blue. Like all of us, he has a past and that past shapes his opinions and actions when it comes to love. Dean has experienced a lot of loss in a short amount of time.

When you add it all up, those factors can make it challenging to be vulnerable. Instead of leaning in and taking a chance, he made up his mind and fled. That was the safe option and not one of us can say we wouldn’t do the same.

Fast forward and Dean, mustache free and with a clear head and heart, comes back to the beach and asks Caeylnn to accept him back and to (OMG) leave paradise with him.

This sounds like a dream sequence right out of a movie, right? But you’ve got to wonder – what happened? Straight up, love happened. Dean just couldn’t stop thinking about her. He went back to that life he was so intent on living – living in a van and just doing ‘HIM.’

But then picture his day to day: picture the scene: Dean gets back to his ‘real life,’ just him and a van. He drives hours and hours to The Grand Canyon, one of the most breathtaking life changing places in the world…but does it all alone (womp womp womp). He told Caelynn, that the moment he left, on the flight home, driving to the Grand Canyon, and then just standing over that monumental red rock wonder of the world he only wished for one thing: for Caelynn to be there with him.

Fast fast forward and the couple are going strong. They support each other. They are Instagram cute and awkward. And we are all rooting for their love to last!

Don’t let fear win

No matter what your life plans are, no matter what you’ve seen and experienced in your parent’s relationship, your own past, this is your life and you deserve and should have love. Guess what; not only does life happen while you’re busy planning, it’s just as true that LOVE happens then too.

Maybe you have plans to live in a van for a year and travel the US just like Dean, maybe you are focused on building up your companies and selling them, or moving to the perfect location, finding the perfect job, being the most perfect version of yourself BEFORE you allow love in.

But when is that perfect time? Who is that “perfect” version of you,you and is all that really attainable is he or she actually attainable or just a reason to push people away? And does Does that mean you are going to wake up in 10 years with a house and fancy things and exotic travel plans but nobody to share them with? If you stay closed off, it just might.

Love is rolling its eyes at you

That’s why I ask you to be open to love…today. Right now. Even if you’re ‘too busy’ or are leaving on an airplane in 3 days or still need ‘healing.’ Love doesn’t wait. Love doesn’t care about your schedule or how ‘messy’ your life is. At least be open to the fact that your dream man or woman could walk into your life today. No matter if you think you are ‘ready’ for it or not!

Lesson #2 Keep your side of the street clean

Blake Hortsmann left the show with a big Bachelor sized target on his back. And no matter if you think the public blew things out of control, or ‘Bachelor Nation’ treated him like a pariah, he didn’t do himself any favors.

This is Blake’s infamous now story: It barely took a week into the show before two female contestants learned they had unknowingly hooked up with Blake on subsequent nights at a music festival. Because of this, nobody trusted Blake and he just moped around the beach all alone confused as to the situation he was in.

Blake didn’t fare well on the beach and left all alone. Then he made the situation so much worse putting Caelynn’s morning after texts on blast to tabloid magazines…and the world. Obviously, this situation happened on a massive ABC tv show scale, but guess what – there is a lesson in this for us all. Blake did NOT keep his side of the street clean and it bit him in the butt.

Integrity first

Keeping your side of the street clean meets treating the people in your dating as if the whole world is watching. It doesn’t matter if it’s a first date, somebody you’re just sleeping with, or the person you’ve been dating for months or years, and it doesn’t matter if you’re on a national TV show, or live in a small town or big city. Tidy up!

These days, everyone really sees each other. We can not act like fools and get away with it! Social media makes hookups, breakups, and mess-ups public. And we’ve all experienced that phenomenon of feeling like we live in a small town no matter the actual population of where we live! I live in a big city, Denver, and it’s crazy how I end up seeing exes and people in my dating past on the regular! When I run into people from my past I am so grateful that I treated each of them well and put my integrity first, even if things didn’t end perfectly.

Get cleaning!

I’ve also seen the opposite happen, where people get nasty and sloppy, and the results are ugly. Screenshots and nasty digs on social media. Gossip amongst friend groups and a bunch of stuff that lives on forever online and the worst of all – a tarnished reputation.

Keeping your side of the street clean is not that hard! Have poise, breakup with grace and kindness, don’t mess around in the same friend groups (guys and gals, there are PLENTY of fish in the sea) and not only will you maintain a good reputation, you’ll feel better about the way you treat yourself and others.

Lesson 3: Give love time to grow.

Cam is a unique character from the most recent Bachelorette season. He has been portrayed as the “nice guy” but I’m calling him out as straight up thirsty, desperate and having zero patience in the game of love. And guess what, it shows and he keeps walking away single and loveless! Cam does NOT give love time to grow.

During this season of Bachelor in Paradise, Cam actually started off looking good! He came off sweet and sincere but…then came the downside – he ‘turned it on’ really fast and really intense. The most glaring and cringeworthy example: him sitting Caelynn down and reading her a WAY too long and too personal poem that he ‘stayed up all night working on’ without really knowing her. It. was. Awkward. And here’s the thing: she genuinely had voiced some interest in him! She was happy to sit down and have a conversation with him! And then, he blew it.

What he said wasn’t even sweet, it just read inauthentic and creepy. In love, we all have to give things time.

What’s the rush?

There is this unspoken pressure to hurry up in dating and love. A pressure to make something super special out of a casual first date, to take things from ‘just getting to know each other’ to let’s be official ASAP, and to lock him or her down, get definitive answers and have that person be your everything NOW.

That all sounds really intense, right? That’s because it is! It’s intense for the person you are dating or pursuing, and it does nothing good for you either.

If you try to rush the relationship, chances are high that they will just pick up and leave! They start thinking, “why are you putting me in this position, and are you even considering my perspective?”

Being rushed into love feels unnatural because it IS unnatural. And here’s what it really does:

1. You become less attractive

The #1 way to look unattractive and needy is to come across desperate. And doing things like Cam’s creepy poem and handing out feelings WAY too soon is not a good look.

There are times you might put your foot in your mouth, maybe saying something like ‘OMG my mom would love you for that….’ Ack! Did I just mention MY MOM?! But don’t worry about (totally cute) comments like that made out of the blue. There is a big difference between letting leak that maybe you’ve been thinking about that person in your future, and inviting your family to join you on your third date.

2. You might miss out on the one

You want to have a partner, you want it to be official, but do you really want that with this person? So often the push takes over and has almost nothing to do with if you guys are a great match! All that

You could miss out on the one – You started out liking this person, great. But the obsession with making things official or pressing on too fast now has way less to do with connection and more to do with your goals and wants.

The truth is, people tend to rush relationships because of some deeply preconceived notions about what they think they need to make them happy. They think that once a long term relationship happens the sky will open up and shower rainbows and love butterflies on them.

That’s not how it works. The world gives to those who are patient! Rushing toward it with just anyone you kind of like is not going to get you there.

What’s next?

Lessons straight from the beach: Be open to love in your life (no matter the circumstances!), be kind in your love life because everyone’s watching! And finally, give love time to grow and happen.

Now get out there and love!

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